Warning over land

2018-02-22 13:55
Chairman of the KZN provincial house of traditional leaders, Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza said the death of inkosi Ndabingehlele Chiliza has saddened them.

Chairman of the KZN provincial house of traditional leaders, Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza said the death of inkosi Ndabingehlele Chiliza has saddened them. (File)

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The KwaZulu-Natal house of traditional leaders has warned of bloodshed should the government go ahead with plans to remove rural land from its control.

“We would like to send a stern warning to those behind the plans to dispossess the Zulu Kingdom of its land. As traditional leaders we are ready to lay down our lives in defence of the land which our ancestors fought and died for,” provincial house of traditional leaders chairperson Phathisizwe Chiliza said on Wednesday.

Chiliza was speaking in the wake of recommendations by the high-level panel headed by former president Kgalema Motlanthe that close to three million hectares of rural land under the control of the Zulu Kingdom’s Ingon­yama Trust Board (ITB) be transferred to the state for the benefit of community members.

The panel’s recommendation resonates with the ANC national conference resolution that part of the land under the custodianship of traditional leaders be transferred to individual community members.

However, Chiliza said in an exclusive interview with The Witness that traditional leaders became more worried following reports that even newly-elected President Cyril Ramaphosa had backed plans to remove land from the control of traditional leaders.

“In the eyes of the Zulu people the issue of land is quite a sensitive one and any leader who takes matters of peace and security seriously would not want to venture into that terrain.

“People have forgotten that the Zulu people laid down their lives in the battle for Isandlwana to protect their land ... they will definitely do the same should their land come under threat again,” he said.

Ramaphosa and the ANC want the land to be transferred to residents to ensure that people in rural areas have security of tenure. However, Chiliza said giving rural dwellers title deeds would not benefit the poor but rather will see land revert back into the hands of the rich and the privileged.

“We have already seen how people living in shacks around the country’s cities had gone back to live in the shacks after selling houses which government had built for them. What these people are planning to do will create more poverty and homelessness,” he said.

The panel, which was established by Parliament in 2016, submitted its findings and recommendations to Parliament’s Speaker’s Forum following year-long interactions with citizens across the country on the impact of the country’s laws, including the Ingonyama Trust Act.

The Witness has since established that Parliament recently turned down a request by the ITB to make a presentation to the panel. “They were told to wait for parliamentary processes to unfold and that they will get an opportunity to make a submission once Parliament begins to deliberate on the matter,” a source in Parliament said.

Following Parliament’s refusal to allow representatives of the ITB to make presentations to the panel, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini then summoned the amakhosi (chiefs) for an urgent meeting that took place on Monday.

Chiliza said the meeting agreed that the ITB should seek legal advice around the panel’s recommendations.

Premier Willies Mchunu, who was part of the meeting, denied reports that he had during the gathering accused the panel of being insensitive.

“Reports that the premier criticised the panel are completely untrue ... he merely appealed for all parties to treat the matter with care as the issue of land is very sensitive,” the premier’s spokesperson, Thami Ngidi, said.

Ngidi said Mchunu told the meeting that the Premier’s Office did not have enough details on the work done by the panel as Parliament is yet to brief the province on the matter.

Parliament’s spokesperson Moloto Mothapo admitted that the institution had written to the ITB, but said the letter merely corrected certain “misperceptions”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  land expropriation

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